7 Card Stud
Seven card stud is a game of great skill that is not talked about very often. Hopefully this article will help show the benefits of playing seven card stud and some strategy to improve your play. I will run through the basics and then move on to some more advanced strategy including position, starting hands and counting cards.
Seven card stud is one of the most complicated forms of poker. Therefore, if you can reach a high standard at the game it is one of the easiest to win at. Information is key in poker, but even more so in seven card stud. You are able to see many of your opponent’s cards, so you need to use that information, along with the strength of your own hand to make the correct decisions.
Understanding 7 Card Stud terminology
Firstly, you need to understand the terms associated with the game. This section will run through the terminology that is given for each round of cards dealt in seven card stud.
Round 1 – You are dealt two hole/pocket cards face down and one card face up called the door card.
Round 2 – You are dealt one card face up known as fourth street.
Round 3 – You are dealt one card face up known as fifth street.
Round 4 – You are dealt one card face up known as sixth street.
Round 5 – You are dealt your final card face down which is the river card
The Betting in 7 Card Stud
One of the first things you will notice about seven card stud poker is that there are five betting rounds rather than the three used in Hold’em and Omaha. This is different to most other forms of poker. The game is nearly always played as a Limit betting game.
Firstly, all players must pay an ante for each hand which goes into the pot. The ante is a quarter of the lowest limit. So if you are playing 2/4 the ante would be 0.50. After the first round of cards are dealt the player with the lowest numbered door card must bring in the minimum bet which would be 1 or if they wish to raise, 2. Like other forms of poker the action then moves in a clockwise direction. On fourth street the highest-ranking hand is first to speak, they can choose whether to check or bet 2. On fifth street, sixth street and the river, the highest-ranked hand is first to speak and can make a bigger bet of 4 if they wish to. Players that wish to raise can bet another 2 or 4 depending on which round of betting you are in.
In seven card stud you also need to use five cards from the seven you are dealt, to complete your hand. It is only possible to seat eight players around the table because of the number of cards used. If, and it is an extremely rare occasion, all eight players remain with the river still to be dealt, a single card remaining in the deck is placed in the centre and used as a community card. I have never seen this happen in all the time I have been playing though.
Starting Hands in 7 Card Stud
Like most forms of poker, you need to be aware of which are the best starting hands. Sticking to good starting hands will increase your chances of winning consistently. Here are the different starting hands you might receive in 7 Card Stud:
Rank 1 starting hands – Rolled up trips. This is the term used when you have been dealt three-of-a-kind in the first round. The other hand I class as rank 1 is a running flush draw, such as TsJsQs.
Rank 2 starting hands – Three card straight, three card flushes and any pair above an eight with a live high kicker. By live high kicker I mean that you can’t see an opponent who has your live kicker, as this would decrease your chances of making two pair. The higher your straight or flush draw the stronger your starting hand is. Having a very high pair like Aces or Kings in the pocket is also very strong as it is difficult for your opponent to put you on that pair, if they are not able to see that you already have one of those cards face up.
Rank 3 starting hands – Small pairs with back door potential. Hands like 6s6h7s can be played. You already have a pair but the fact you have two running cards and two of the same suit gives the hand much better potential. Three high cards with good potential like TsJsKd can also be worth taking another card. You could make a high pair, a better flush draw or a Queen could give you a good straight draw.
Starting hands other than the ones I place in Levels 1, 2 and 3 should be played with extreme caution. In fact, I would advise only players with lots of experience at the game to try and do so.
Position in 7 Card Stud
Like all forms of poker, position is important in seven card stud. It is crucial when deciding whether to buy in. If you hold an average starting hand such a 8s8dTd and you are second to act on a full table and you can see that players behind you have high cards, then you should not play your hand as it is likely that one or more players may raise behind you. If you were last to act and it would only cost a minimum bet to take another card, you could play your hand. It can become very costly if you call without strong starting hands out of position. As a general rule, the earlier you are buying in the stronger your hand must be.
Counting Cards in 7 Card Stud
Without doubt one of the most important things in stud is to be aware of all the cards around you and those that have been mucked. The great thing about playing online is that you can just write down the cards that have been passed so that you don’t forget them.
The more people that are in the hand determines which cards are live, and this should have a massive effect on the decisions that you make. I will use an example to illustrate this.
You are dealt 5s6d7h after the first round and you, and your seven opponents all decide to take another card. You did this because by analysing your opponent’s cards, you could see that none of the fours or eights that are key to making a straight were face up in your opponent’s hands. On fourth street you are dealt the Jh and three of the cards you were hoping to get were dealt to your opponents. Your hand has now been severely weakened. Not only do you only have one less opportunity to be dealt the cards you were hoping for, but three of the cards that are key to your hand are now dead. If there was a bet, it would be time to fold your hand.
There is so much to say about looking at your opponent’s cards, but most of it is common sense. If you are playing for a spade flush and you can see that many of your opponents have spades then you need to calculate that into your odds of making the flush. You can gain so much information by looking at all the cards face up in your opponents hand use it.
How to play 7 Card Stud online
While 7 Card Stud is not as popular as other forms of the game at real money poker rooms like Pokerstars, you will still find plenty of tables at the bigger gambling companies on the web. Online 7 Card Stud is usually Limit Betting, which means it is ideal for new players to the game.
At the time of writing in 2019 we scanned 10 of the most popular online poker sites (including 888, Full Tilt and Pokerstars) and nine of them had open 7 Card Stud tables.
These online 7 Card Stud sites are generally licensed in places like the United Kingdom and Malta, although more and more countries are now introducing gambling legislation which governs the specifics of online poker.
Basically a great place to start when looking for a place to play 7 Card Stud online are websites like this one, look at the poker sites we recommend, read the reviews and determine whether the website is suitable for you.
Some of the 7 Card Stud sites we recommend are now even available on mobile, which means you could potentially play at anytime.